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Weight Distribution Trailer Hitches Information

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Information on Weight Distribution Trailer Hitches


Today we are going to cover a few questions about weight distribution in general that we get a lot. First we will start off with the hitch itself. A common question is can any hitch be used with the weight distribution assembly. Virtually any two inch receiver hitch as the one we have here, can accommodate weight distribution. However there are a few odd ones out there that do not, mainly they are on small SUVs and maybe a couple of minivans, for the most part almost any two inch receiver hitch can accommodate weight distribution. The only real bulletproof way to find out is to look at the sticker on the hitch itself and you will see some numbers on there. The numbers you want to look for here are right here. This one says weight carrying and that is for the hitch itself which means that is the maximum weight the hitch can carry without any assistance.

In this example it is 5,000 pounds which is relatively common. The next number here which says weight distribution on top, that means the trailer can pull 8,000 pounds total trailer weight or gross trailer weight. This also corresponds with tongue weight. The tongue weight here is 500 pounds without weight distribution, that means that the ball is directly on the ball mount and in the hitch and is pulling down and is limited to 500 pounds. With the weight distribution you can increase that to 800 pounds or 10 percent of 8,000. Most trailer tongue weight is about 10-15 percent on the tongue. The next question we get is how to determine the right size and type of weight distribution they should get. There are a variety of ways to achieving the same thing, basically numbers wise you want to get the weight distribution that matches closest to the trailer that you have. Say you have a trailer with 700 pounds of tongue weight, then you want to get a weight distribution assembly that has closest to that tongue weight. Say for example the weight distribution has a tongue weight of 800 pounds that would be your closest bet, it is alway better to go over than under with the weight distribution assembly. After you have determined the type of tongue weight capacity you need, the next step is to check the total weight of the trailer itself.

Say for example your trailer is 10,000 pounds fully loaded then you must make sure the weight distribution matches that. Most of the time 800 pounds tongue weight will be in line with a 10,000 pound trailer. Also there are two different types of weight distribution achieving the same weight capacities, there is the trunnion style and the round bar style. The trunnion style basically has bars that mount on to the side of the head assembly and the round bars, they are actually a little bit lower and come in from the bottom and fit into the head assembly from underneath and curve to the bottom. The big advantage to the round bar over the trunnion style is if you have a thick frame say about 8 inches or so, the round bar is more appropriate for that type of frame, it will give you more clearance when you want to use sway control that is added onto it. However for those applications you are talking about a 10,000-12,000 pound trailer. With the trunnion bar assembly you can get a higher weight rating in some cases up to 17,000 pounds. Our next question we are going to cover is TW, tongue weight, versus GTW, gross trailer weight. First off tongue weight is the actual weight of the tongue and the trailer with all of the weight on the ball pushing down on the hitch itself. Next is gross trailer weight which is the weight of the trailer fully loaded. We have a trailer with a pair of 7,000 pound axles. That means the trailer is rated for 14,000 pounds total and that does includes the load. For example, 17,000 pounds total if we subtract 2000 pounds for the trailer weight itself, then you have 15000 pounds of weight to load onto the trailer itself. Just remember that with gross trailer weight, take the weight of the trailer fully loaded into consideration. Another note on tongue weight, it will be approximately 10 percent of the load. Different types of trailers will have more or less tongue weight, so it is always good to make sure from the manufacturer what your trailer is typically capable of.

Another common question is whether or not a customer should get the biggest weight distribution assembly available seeing as price wise there is not much of a difference. There actually is a difference. For example if you get a weight distribution system that is rated for 1,000 pounds tongue weight yet your RV has on 550 pounds tongue weight, it will hold it just fine but it will make the ride quality pretty stiff between the truck and the trailer. You will not have enough flexibility and may be harder to install and make more noise on the road. You want something that will provide a smoother ride yet still carry the weight. Basically it is always better to match up to what you have originally. The worst case, you do trade up to the bigger trailer, it is no problem as long as your hitch can still accommodate it you can always get new spring bars to match up. Usually the head assembly will take on the extra trailer weight. The next question is what is weight distribution and how does it work. Weight distribution is taking the weight that is pushing down on the truck and trailer, physically picking it up and shoving it across the axles of the trailer and the truck itself. Now well tell you how it actually works. Basically as the weight comes down, it pushes on the head assembly which pushes against these bars here, and these bars are naturally chained to the lift lock brackets. What the bars want to do is remain straight but since these chains are pulling on them and creating tension, the only way for them to straighten out is pushing back up on the head assembly and pushing it back up. That in turn takes the load and pushes it back up which then transmits the weight between the axles of the truck and the trailer.

The next question we are going to cover is how many links you need on your spring bar compared to the adjustment to the tilt on the head assembly itself. Starting with the tilt on the head assembly, that varies on with the set up of the weight distribution. The tilt of it helps you fine tune the trailer height. Basically you start off with the trailer level, and then you want to run the ball 3/4 to an inch taller than the hitch ball on the coupler level. That is where you set your tilt right here. Basically that will donote how many links you end up using over here. That is pretty much your initial gross adjustment. You do this of course with your trailer fully loaded, then you have to make adjustments if you need more tension then you go up one link at a time until you find the proper tension. Basically that will bring your truck and trailer back to level. So there are no hard set number of links to use, but there is a hard set minimum. In most applications you want to have five links showing. That being said on our demonstration here, this actually has a sway control device installed, so basically you would have to make up for two or three links that is used by this and then go on from there. Another thing that can alter the links on your weight distribution is how much weight you are carrying. For example on a cargo trailer that has varying weights, you can use more or less links. Obviously with more weight you will use more links and with less weight there will be less links. You still want to do whatever it takes to keep the truck level, make for a nice even smooth ride, and everything stays balanced basically. Our next question is going to cover sway control and whether you need it or not. For starters a common way to find out is to get the weight distribution assembly first, and then trying it out from there. The weight distribution assemblies have a natural resistance built in and will take out a lot of the sway that you encounter. If it doesnt and you want to add a sway control, a lot of the time it will be mandatory for RVs and big campers. Now there is a reason that trailers do sway and make sure you are getting the sway control for the right reasons. The right reason is when you pass a big truck and get a cross wind that is when you will make the trailer sway. Now if you are going down the road and there is no one around you and you have a sway problem no matter what the speed, then you may have too much weight on the back of the trailer. That will cause a sway control problem every time. In that case, no matter the amount of sway control you put on the front will correct anything that has too much weight in the back of the trailer. So if you want to make an initial correction, try putting a little more weight up front and make sure you dont go over the capacity of your hitch and weight distribution. If you still have the problem of too much weight in the back, probably drastic measures will have to be taken to remove that weight somehow. However if your trailer is properly balanced and you get some sway from another vehicle going down the road then any type of sway control will work for you.


Al P.

4/18/2014

where I bought my camper tells me that if the weight distribution hitch is not set up properly its worse than not having one. Where do I get directions how to set up the W. D. hitch when I buy it from you guys.

Patrick B.

4/21/2014

All of our weight distribution kits will have printed instructions included that will cover setting up, some of them will have videos that go along with them. Many of them will have a digital copy of the instructions linked on our website. Of course if you have any questions, you can always contact us and we'll be happy to help. The most important piece to installing and setting up a WD system is knowing your weights. Make sure you know the gross weight of the trailer as well as the tongue weight when fully loaded.

Dewayne S.

9/23/2012

Question: I have a 1999 6 Cyl. Honda Passport with a dealer installed trailer hitch at purchase is it possible to upgrade the rear shocks and/or springs along with a weight distribution system so that it will properly pull a lightweight RV?

Patrick B.

9/25/2012

Upgrading the shocks and springs won't increase the towing capacity of the vehicle. The towing capacity is determined in part by the frame, the suspension, the drive train and a host of other factors. Upgrading the suspension may make the suspension strong enough, but the transmission or differential may not be able to handle it. I would strongly recommend contacting Honda to find out exactly what the tow capacity is for your vehicle with the dealer installed hitch. I would also ask them about use of a Weight Distribution system. A WD (Weight Distribution) system can be a huge help when towing. If the trailer is within the vehicle's tow capacity and is loaded properly, a WD system can help with the rear of the vehicle sagging. You would simply need to find a system best suited for the weight of the trailer. Too heavy and the ride will be stiff and you could end up lifting the rear of the car. Too light and the WD could break or at the least, be ineffective. Again check with Honda about WD. There are many Honda vehicles that are prohibited from WD use according to the manuals. Any other questions, please let us know.

Info for this part was:

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Employee Cole B
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